Next I cued up The Verve’s landmark album, Urban Hymns, turning to the ever powerful and moving Bittersweet Symphony. Once again the Custom-3s showed that they have a significant depth of talent, reproducing the powerful strings of the intro with crystal clear clarity. And even as the rest of the instruments and vocals arrive in the mix, those strings are never lost, always discernible just behind the vocals and strong beats. If you haven’t listened to this song in a while, get yourself a pair of Custom-3s and fire it up – you’ll remember just how good it is!
I turned next to an enduring memory from my childhood, namely George Benson’s 1978 live album, Weekend in L.A. The live rendition of On Broadway is a masterpiece and one of the most memorable recordings in Benson’s career. Again the Custom-3s gave an excellent account of themselves, reproducing that strong bass line, Benson’s powerful, melodic vocals and, of course, his expert guitar riffs. The Custom-3s produced a truly immersive sound, making me feel as if I was in the crowd, listening to the music first hand.
I listened to the same music using a pair of Shure SE420s, and was surprised by how different the sound was. It’s hard to say which pair is better though, since although the Shures offer slightly improved clarity at the high-end, the Klipsch Custom-3s produce a fuller and warmer sound. If you have a chance it’s worth listening to both, since the difference is likely to be a matter of personal preference.
The design of the Custom-3s is very reminiscent of the Shures too – they sit inside your ear, while the cable is routed over your ear and down the back. However, Klipsch has employed a mouldable cable cover that protrudes from the earphone, thus allowing you to route the cable over your ear without it slipping – Ultimate Ears uses a similar design, and it definitely helps keep your cables where you want them.
The Custom-3s aren’t as comfortable in the ear as the Images, but that’s not surprising, since the Images are unfathomably light. That said, they are still very light and comfy in the ear even after an extended period. I also initially found it difficult to get a good seal using the Custom-3s, but after a bit of experimentation with the silicone tips I found that I was able to get a very good seal without much effort at all. Another point worth mentioning is that the Shure foam tips also fit on the Custom-3s, and if you prefer the very snug fit offered by foam, you can just buy few sets from Shure.